Reflections from our Executive Director and Board President
Dearest PPP Friends and Family,
This past summer hundreds of wildfires scorched Canada from coast to coast, with the majority burning in British Columbia and Alberta. An iceberg the size of Prince Edward Island in Canada (roughly 5,660 km²) broke off Antarctica. The extreme unseasonable and devastating effects of climate change are now impacting us in every corner of our world.
And yet, our South Pacific friends living in some of the most affected nations of the world strongly remind us: “We are not drowning, we are fighting.” And so must we, as this is a matter of not only climate justice but our very survival globally. These passionate words were shared by Pacific 360 Warrior Mikaele Maiava live from Samoa during PPP’s Livestream event “Pacific Streams: Community Narratives on Climate Change” (sponsored by our long-time partner CAPI – Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives.) Watch it here:
PPP is serious about addressing climate change. This past summer I had the opportunity to participate in the Climate Reality Project Climate Leadership Corps Training with Former US Vice President Al Gore in Bellevue, Washington. Over 800 delegates inspired to be Climate Leaders attended, in fact this the 35th cohort was one of the largest to date. This was encouraging, as the fight in the USA against climate change has taken such a disastrous turn under the current US administration.
Despite that administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on Climate Change, the very future of our world depends on our solidarity, so what an inspiration it was to participate alongside youth, scientists, Indigenous leaders, activists, inventors, teachers, retirees, and countless volunteers impassioned to take a stand and make a difference. We represented so many walks of life, and together we will unite in the fight against climate change.
Earlier this year I visited the Fijian town of Toukou on Ovalau Island. Here I was reminded of the continuing risk and ongoing climate devastation faced by those most vulnerable geographically. I was there to represent PPP and our donors who are providing support through our Pacific Resilience Fund to assist with the recovery efforts at the Loreto Catholic School which was nearly leveled last year.
My tour took place during unsettled tropical weather that alternated between continual rain deluges and wind storms. This made it even more difficult to bear witness to the damage from both 2015 and 2016 cyclones on this small historic island.
It was heartbreaking to consider that the community could be hit by yet another cyclone before they can recover from the last, especially since so many families have had to leave the island to pursue employment and find accommodations and education on the main island due to this accumulated damage.
With this realization, the fight can seem hopeless, but it is not hopeless if we take action now. Pacific peoples are strong and resilient. They advocate for “1.5 to just survive” and are counting on us all to do our part. In Bonn Germany, Fiji just hosted the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23). They brought a traditional Fijian canoe or drua, which serves as a powerful symbol of resilience and unity. This also serves to remind us that “The whole world is in the same canoe.”
“We need COP23 to accelerate climate action,” says Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “The meeting is a staging post on our irreversible path to a low-carbon future, a path that we need to go on further, faster, together.”
In response to our shared climate crisis PPP has been developing a three year climate action response that includes knowledge sharing components, including two conferences. The first is Red Tide, our International Indigenous Climate Action Summit (May 2018 in Aotearoa) in followed by a youth climate summit in 2020 in British Columbia.
We are also embarking on a research program in partnership with the Indigenous Governance program at the University of Victoria to inform future policy and program development, and hosting public engagement activities such as our annual One Wave Gathering and our educational program FrancOcean Pacifique. Also in design is a Pacific Eco Youth Alliance, and a growing media hub.
PPP is contributing to many networks and community engagement projects both domestically and internationally, ultimately building solidarity and resolve together within our global community.
For Pacific… Peace… In Solidarity,
April Ingham, Executive Director & Mua Va’a, President
Please donate today to help Pacific Peoples’ Partnership take action on climate change.